Do you suffer from severe acne—the kind that causes large, painful breakouts that extend deep into your skin? It can be challenging to cope with severe acne. Many people try to avoid social situations due to embarrassment or fear of being ridiculed due to their acne.
If your severe acne isn’t responding to conventional treatments, your dermatologist may recommend isotretinoin. However, some people hesitate to use this medication (formerly sold as Accutane until 2009) due to its side effects and controversial history. How do you decide if isotretinoin is right for you, and are there natural alternatives if you choose not to use it?
What is Isotretinoin?
Isotretinoin is a retinoid and a chemical derivative of vitamin A. This prescription medication can attack acne in four different ways:
- Decreasing oil production (or sebum)
- Killing bacteria in your pores
- Reducing inflammation
- Slowing the growth of skin cells that can clog pores
One treatment course is typically four to five months, although a dermatologist tailors it to your needs.
Are the Side Effects Serious?
Isotretinoin can help heal severe acne. That said, this medication comes with several side effects, some serious, which may prevent some people from using it.
One serious side effect of isotretinoin is its toxicity to fetuses. If taken when pregnant, isotretinoin can cause miscarriage, premature birth, or severe birth defects. Therefore, it’s critical for anyone who is pregnant or may become pregnant to avoid this drug.
Given the seriousness of this drug’s effect on fetuses, users—men and women—must enroll in the monitoring program, iPledge, and be closely monitored by their medical provider. Also, women in the United States who take this medication are required to use two forms of birth control before starting the medicine, while using it, and for four weeks after stopping isotretinoin.
Additionally, there is concern that isotretinoin may cause depression and suicidal thoughts in some people. While research results are mixed on whether it causes these symptoms, people who have used isotretinoin have reported experiencing feelings of depression, nosebleeds, and daily migraines. Additionally, even if the medication helps clear their acne, some users have reported being left with excessive scarring on their face, which can lead to emotional distress and self-isolation.
There was a very compelling recent article about Katie White who took Roaccutane to treat her severe acne and remained housebound for several months due to the extreme scarring she was left with.
Serious potential side effects of Isotretinoin:
- Depression and suicidal thoughts
- Toxicity to fetuses
- Permanent nighttime dry eyes
Additional minor side effects of isotretinoin include:
- Chapped lips and dry skin
- Dry mouth
- Increased sensitivity to the sun
- Excessive skin peeling
- Thinning hair
- Upset stomach
In rare cases, isotretinoin has caused pancreatitis.
Is Isotretinoin Permanent?
While Isotretinoin is touted to be a permanent solution in over 80% of cases, the study used for this only had 88 participants. Our belief at Innate Skin is that this figure is much lower as many of our customers come to us after their acne resurfaces after using Isotretinoin. Even the owner of Innate Skin, who did 2 separate treatments of Accutane, had his back acne come back within 2-3 years each time he did a treatment. That is what let him to develop the Clear Skin Vitamin Pack.
Are There Natural Alternatives to Isotretinoin?
Isotretinoin should be used as an absolute last resort when it comes to treating acne. While research on the effectiveness of many natural acne treatments is limited, there is growing interest in exploring the usefulness of different vitamin supplements.
Several vitamins may help with severe acne and reduce the appearance of scarring without isotretinoin’s side effects. Some of these vitamins may work best when used together, such as vitamins A and D3. If you’re looking for vitamins to help with your severe acne,consider:
- DIM (diindolylmethane), which may help clear deep painful cyst acne
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D3
- Pantothenic acid
- Vitamin E
Severe Acne is Treatable
While it can take some time and trial and error, some treatments can help heal severe acne. Whether you and your doctor decide isotretinoin is or isn’t right for you, vitamin supplements can be a useful tool to help treat your acne and prevent scarring. Worst case an acne vitamin supplement should be tried for at least 2-3 months before even considering going on isotretinoin.
If you’re considering natural alternatives to treat or supplement your acne treatments, Innate Skin’s Clear Skin Vitamin Pack Acne Supplement may be right for you. This supplement contains a variety of acne-fighting vitamins and minerals to help clear your skin of acne and keep it blemish-free.